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Why Large Scale Solar Power Remains A Pipe Dream In India

November 18, 2018
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By Paul Homewood

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As I reported yesterday, India is pushing ahead with building an extra 94 GW of new coal power capacity, equivalent to half its current capacity.

So why can’t they simply build more solar farms instead? After all, as their new National Electricity Plan declares, India is ideally positioned to benefit from the potential energy:

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However, as the NEP also points out:

Generation from renewable energy sources especially solar and wind is variable in nature and therefore, requires huge balancing capacity in the system.

And the Plan goes into plenty of detail to show just how variable both solar and wind power are.

Unlike in the UK, where demand is lowest at night, in India it is lowest in the middle of the day, and peaks during evening hours.

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This is obviously not ideal, given that solar output peaks during the middle of the day, and has disappeared by early evening:

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To make matters worse, output varies from month to month as well. It tend to be maximised during the summer, and drops to a minimum in October and November:

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As we know here, wind power can also be extremely intermittent. It peaks at around 50% utilisation during monsoon months, but is little more than irrelevant during the rest of the year:

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Fig 6.16 shows the peak output each day for solar and wind combined, and gives an idea of just how variable output can be during the year. Bear in mind that projected peak demand for 2021-22 is 225 GW, and that renewable capacity is expected to be even higher by 2026-27, and you will get some idea of just how hard it will be to integrate all of this variable output into India’s grid.

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Unless they can persuade the sun to shine for 24 hours a day, India will still have to rely heavily on reliable, dispatchable power, whether from coal, nuclear or other sources.

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11 Comments
  1. Bitter@twisted permalink
    November 18, 2018 4:05 pm

    All of which goes to show that India’s NEP is much more realistic than the shambles our energy planning has resulted in.
    The whole climate change scam stinks.
    Barrenness Worthless, Potato Ed, Lord Dipin and the odious Tim Yes(o) all need throwing in prison for this fraud.
    For starters.

  2. November 18, 2018 4:43 pm

    If you want your power supplies dictated by the weather/climate, buy renewables.

    • Sheri permalink
      November 18, 2018 9:30 pm

      Or as some put it, energy from weather.

  3. markl permalink
    November 18, 2018 5:23 pm

    The amount of back up required is directly proportional to the number of installed solar panels. One doesn’t need to be a power engineer to understand the relationship.

  4. Coeur de Lion permalink
    November 18, 2018 6:01 pm

    No, surely, can’t we just get by without electricity at night?

    • Henning Nielsen permalink
      November 18, 2018 8:44 pm

      Yes indees why not? After all, so many of them are alrady used to being without electricity both day and night.

  5. seeker permalink
    November 18, 2018 8:19 pm

    I knew it was a mistake for Britain to let the colonies go. The sun never set on the Empire. Solar power all 24 hours. (Except in the foggy UK!) All it would have needed was a world wide power grid; a mere engineering problem.

  6. John Bowyer permalink
    November 18, 2018 10:39 pm

    This is an international disgrace. “Experts” selling solar and wind as the answer when they in fact are the problem now. Keeping up the nonsense and making things worse. In Victoria Australia our Premier is spruiking all the solar and wind they are paying to have built, diesel backup and our prices increase every six months. Still no sign though of this major flaw being exposed? Mind you as Hollywood is finding out (Me too) when the idiot press eventually catch up they are as merciless as they are stupid. I just hope it is soon!

  7. November 19, 2018 3:32 am

    What if one could turn off ALL fossil Fuel Power across the world and replace it instantly with (primarily solar and wind) renewables? How much of the incoming solar energy would this use up? On the scale needed, solar and wind farms would be taking significant energy normally used to power the weather at least. Solar would also add large amounts of sensible heat by covering the land with blck shiny heat reflectors. The energy removed from the total global heat budget would surely have an effect on the world’s climate? The question would be – is it better or worse than the presumed effect of CO2?

  8. November 19, 2018 9:59 am

    Even Jillian Ambrose in the Sunday Telegraph admitted the negligible contribution of wind and solar on cold still UK winter evenings, in connection with the astonishing lack of gas storage, which the UK govt is not bothered about because “market forces” will solve the problem, presumably in the same way that elections solve the problem of idiotic govts.

    The BBC WS has started regular bleating about Indian air pollution, presumably because this is now the season for still air. They never fail to point the finger at coal-fired power stations, despite its insignificance relative to diesel engines in cars and buses.

  9. Gerry, England permalink
    November 19, 2018 2:00 pm

    I thought Spain had developed 24 hour solar panels? Can’t seem to find any for sale. Perhaps they are keeping them for themselves.

    Jo Nova has a good piece on the problems facing Victoria and South Australia (where Tempus appear to be keen to ‘help’ out) as summer approaches and their government policy will be delivering blackouts. Not just that, emergency supplies will be needed at high cost such that households last summer were charged an additional $200 for just TWO days supply.

    It comes to something if even one of Silly Jilly’s braincells has spotted a problem but sadly the other one hasn’t.

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